Bill Finley Special to the Arizona Daily Star
So tell me, old sportsman, have we heard of Daisy Buchanan? Do we know what happened to him? Anyone else?
The answer, of course, is “no.”
Daisy is one of the most mysterious characters in all of literature, almost unknown despite her important role in “The Great Gatsby” – the much-discussed, controversial, book-clubbed book about our generation.
She is the love of Gatsby’s life. The story surrounds him, but author F. Scott Fitzgerald doesn’t allow him to speak. Although the explanations for it are vague. Who is he, and what happened to him after finding Gatsby’s body at the bottom of his lake?
We’re about to find out, because Tucson author Jillian Cantor will introduce us again in “Beautiful Little Fools,” set to be released by HarperCollins on January 4.
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Cantor may be Tucson’s favorite author — her books and features sell out quickly here — and her readers may find it hard to wait until January.
In “Foolish Little Beauty,” Cantor invites Daisy, Jordan Baker and Myrtle Wilson to tell the Gatsby story from the women’s point of view.
Cantor is known for her novels depicting 20th-Century women, but this one comes with a twist. Instead of showing real people, we are introduced to women who only live on the pages of a book.
That said, the program evolved as Cantor did.
“I’ll be reading or watching television and just run into people who sound interesting,” he said. “If I’m thinking about them a week or two later, I’ll start wondering if there’s a book there. It’s not something I’m going to skip. This is where I will spend the next two years of my life with. I really like them.
In this case, she is challenged by the challenges of being a strong and intelligent woman in an era dominated by misogynistic men. To learn more about Daisy, Cantor dug into Fitzgerald’s diary twice. He reads reviews and lectures. He bought a lot of popcorn. Gatsby has inspired six full-length films, most notably starring Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio, and Cantor has watched them all.
“Honestly, I think the best thing is the 2000 made-for-TV version,” he said. “Paul Rudd played Nick Carraway. He was my favorite, but all the Gatsby movies brought different ideas to the story.
By the end of 2019, Cantor had written 50 pages and his manager was talking to publishers.
“HarperCollins agreed to buy the book before the lockout,” Cantor recalled. “With everything else going on last spring, I suddenly had a deadline. I had three months to finish the book. It was very difficult there for a while.”
“Beautiful Little Fools” is Cantor’s 11th book, written since moving to Tucson as a graduate student in 2000. For a while, he tried to write teaching — an English teacher. at Pima Community College and the UA – but. in 2011 he quit his day job to focus on his career as an author.
Cantor was drawn to ordinary women who were doing extraordinary things, even if those things had slipped under the radar of history.
His latest book, “The Hours Count,” focuses on Ethel Rosenberg. In “Half Life,” we met Marie Currie.
His bestseller, “The Lost Letter,” used fictional characters to depict real people. The story was inspired by anti-Nazi activist Sophie Scholl and a Polish sculptor who helped her during World War II.
Daisy Buchanan’s problems are very different from Scholl’s, but it would be wrong to underestimate her.
This is reflected in the title of Cantor’s book. “Idiots are beautiful,” is a line from Daisy in the novel, expressing her opinion that the men of her era did not think highly of intelligent women…
It will be interesting to see how Cantor turns that word into his novel, he is not about to spoil the surprise.
“Let’s just say that Daisy has more to do than Nick Carraway ever imagined,” Cantor said. “He had a very different take on the events at West Egg that summer than Nick gave us in the book.”
The Tucson Festival of Books will feature author Tom Vitale as part of its writers in conversation on Wednesday, October 3. Vitale is the director and producer of Anthony Bourdain. His book is called “In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain.” It’s a virtual conference that can be found on the festival’s website: tucsonfestivaofbooks.org
Author Luis Alberto Urrea will be back in town to participate in the Tucson Humanities Festival Oct. 14. His reading is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the UA Life Sciences Museum at 1670 E. Drachman St. website: poetry.arizona.edu
“The Great Gatsby” became an American classic, but it was a disaster when it was published in 1925. It sold more than 20,000 copies. Fitzgerald considered himself a failure when he died in 1940.
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